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At least Peter Beinart is original. In his recent New York Times op-ed and his new book The Crisis of Zionism, the American Jewish pundit and author calls for a new form of Zionist activity. As he says in the op-ed, “call it Zionist B.D.S.” Since BDS stands for “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” directed at Israel, for short we can call Beinart’s new type of Zionism “boycott Zionism.”
Historically, the three main streams of Zionism were Labor (socialist), Revisionist (nationalist), and Mizrachi (religious) Zionism. Zionists belonging to these streams (and others, or no particular stream at all) engaged in activities like: coming to live in Israel, settling it including particularly dangerous areas, serving in its security forces, smuggling arms, smuggling refugees, and so on. Israelis today, of course, continue to live in Israel, settle it including particularly dangerous areas, and serve in its security forces; fortunately, because it’s now an established state, they need no longer smuggle in arms or refugees.
But boycott Zionists don’t have to do any of those things. Indeed, boycott Zionism need not be an activity at all; all one need do to be a boycott Zionist in, say, New York City (where Peter Beinart lives) is see an Israeli product on a shelf and not buy it. Thus, so long as the nonbuying is intentional and not just accidental, just about anyone can be a Zionist now—that is, anyone who lives anywhere that Israeli products are sold, which is a lot of places.
By now, readers familiar with Beinart’s position will be objecting that he doesn’t advocate boycotting all Israeli products, only those produced over the Green Line, in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), or what he calls “nondemocratic Israel.” But what if, say, an Israeli company within the Green Line, in pre-1967 Israel, incorporates in its products parts that were produced in Judea and Samaria? Beinart is aware of the issue and says you shouldn’t boycott such companies, because “boycotting anything inside the green line invites ambiguity about the boycott’s ultimate goal—whether it seeks to end Israel’s occupation [of Judea and Samaria] or Israel’s existence.”
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